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Hamas executes 3 Gaza men for murder

July 17, 2012 10:41 A.M. (Updated: July 19, 2012 10:29 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The ministry of interior in the Gaza Strip said three men convicted of murder were hanged on Tuesday, a statement said.

A total of 14 Palestinians have now been executed since the Islamist group Hamas seized the Gaza Strip in 2007 from Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction.

One of the men was convicted of murdering his cousin, another murdered a female relative and the third man killed someone who had stolen his mobile phone, Gaza's ministry of interior said.

The Hamas-run ministry identified the executed men only by their initials.

Under Palestinian law, Abbas is supposed to have the final say on whether executions are carried out, but Hamas runs its justice system without consulting the president.

Human rights groups have repeatedly condemned the use of the death penalty in Gaza. Hamas rejects such criticism.

The executions were carried out "in accordance with our religion (and the) rulings of Palestinian law," the ministry statement said.

Meeting in Ramallah on Tuesday, the Palestinian Authority government said the executions broke Palestinian law with presidential approval, and called the death sentences a "dangerous violation of human rights."

Gaza courts have handed out 30 death sentences since 2007, many of them to people convicted of helping Israeli security forces.

In April, Hamas executed three men by hanging.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights called for legal reform to enact a "unified penal code that is in line with the spirit of international human rights instruments, especially those pertaining to the abolition of the death penalty."

"The call for abolition of the death penalty does not reflect a tolerance for those convicted of serious crimes, but rather a call for utilizing deterrent penalties that preserve our humanity," the rights group said.

Reuters contributed to this report
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